The Murder Mystery Party brand from University Games goes to a new level with the Murder Board Mystery Puzzle. In their party games, the players are presented with a case file and documents pertaining to an unsolved murder. Murder Board Mystery Puzzle adds another problem-solving aspect, with several of the documents and the information-laden murder board itself broken up as jigsaw puzzles. Players must assemble the puzzles to get a better look at the details of the crime to piece together whodunnit.
The Passport to Murder edition of the Murder Mystery Party line introduces a scenario perfect for an outside consultant. As the faux Burbank PD report presents, reality TV star Justin Astor was discovered dead in the bathtub of his hotel room awaiting the final awards episode of his show. The hotel is notorious with investigators for blind spots in its surveillance, part of the reason it is so popular with celebrities who seek discretion. To solve the mystery, players will have to rely on the suspects’ statements and interviews along with evidence from the puzzles.
Puzzles within puzzles
While Passport to Murder includes several whole documents, such as a suspect evaluation form and interviews, much of the evidence will only make itself known after players assemble the puzzles. Five 50-piece puzzles show pieces of evidence such as crumpled notes, but the major player is the 750-piece puzzle that creates the murder board. Just as in cinematic mystery-solving, the board has pinned pieces of evidence along with leads connecting suspects in a mind map. Assembling the puzzles is fun in itself, but it also lends a vibe to the game, the kind one might feel reassembling shredded documents. Looking at the evidence literally piece by piece has the sleuths focusing on minute details, which will reveal alibis and coverups that may only be hinted at in the interviews.
In case players run out of leads in Passport to Murder, the University Games website features a link with tips. Rather than giving anything away wholesale, the tips come piecemeal, so that players may need a few before they are set on their own right track. When players have their idea of who the murderer could be, another website offers the solution. But instead of answering outright, the site lists the suspects so players can take their guess by name and, if wrong, guess again without the answer spoiled. There is even a second mystery to solve as players determine who the rightful winner of the reality show’s prize money should be.
Passport to Murder is a mystery game and puzzle for players aged 15 and up. While the “party” aspect encourages multiple players acting as detectives, the games are also fun as single-player games for those who want to dive alone into a cozy murder mystery. When playing with a group, the detectives may have differing opinions on who has the motive, means, and opportunity to perform the murder. In those cases, players should write down their suspicions before the final reveal, giving some detectives bragging rights as others admit defeat.